August 26–September 4, 2016

2016 SEASON

CAST

Floyd Collins
Homer Collins
Nellie Collins
Lee Collins
Miss Jane
H.T. Charmichael
Skeets Miller
Jewel Estes
Bee Doyle
Ed Bishop
Reporter/Dr. Hazlett
Reporter/Cliff Roney
Reporter/Frederick Jordan
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* Actors Equity Association Member

FLOYD COLLINS is presented through special arrangement with R&H Theatricals; www.rnh.com.

REVIEWS FOR FLOYD COLLINS

Ace in the Hole – a review of “Floyd Collins”

Burgh Vivant, Michael “Buzz” Buzzelli

August 29, 2016

“Floyd Collins” is a rare piece of theater. Calling it “a musical about a man trapped in a cave” is a wince-inducing logline, but “Floyd Collins” transcends its elevator pitch. The show works because of its superb cast.

McHugh is charming and affable as the titular, trapped hero. He manages to sing, yodel and dig his way into our hearts. In a powerful moment, McHugh and Salstone reminisce about their childhood, reliving the moments from their boyhood. It’s beautiful and heart-wrenching.

Bergman’s Skeets Miller is our everyman. We see this world through his eyes. He’s an excellent choice for the character.

Krell’s Lee is a broken man marred by his beliefs. Visser is masterful and commanding as Carmichael. Both men are powerful performers.

Much to director Rachel M. Stevens’ credit, there isn’t a bad performance in the show.  Under Stevens’ deft direction, “Floyd Collins” is perfection. There is some exquisite choreography from Alivia Owen (pay close attention to the precise, balletic movements of Mason Lewis).

Doug Levine’s orchestra is magical, but there is some incredible a cappella yodeling in the show. For the record, this reviewer never thought he would ever become a fan of yodeling. Front Porch Theatricals’ production of “Floyd Collins” is flawless and you should go, unless you’re stuck in a hole.

Stage review: Front Porch musical 'Violet' finds beauty in tolerance

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sharon Eberson

May 25, 2017

Nathan Salstone and Danny McHugh, who play brothers in the musical “Floyd Collins,” were saying their goodbyes when Mr. Salstone mentioned that seven cast members had visited the Laurel Caverns the previous day.

It was suggested that he had buried the lead, teeing up his onstage brother to add, “Literally and figuratively.” Mr. McHugh will play the title role in the musical, based on the true story of a Kentucky spelunker who became trapped and died in a cave in 1925.

The rescue attempt over two weeks was widely reported on the relatively new medium of radio and attracted thousands of onlookers, prompting the wide use of the phrase “media circus.” Floyd’s tragedy became one of America’s most reported stories between the world wars.

Front Porch Theatricals' 'Floyd Collins' explores early media craze

Tribune Review, Deborah Weisburg

August 26, 2016

Although media frenzies are part of modern culture, one of the first in American history occurred around the tragic death of a cave explorer in Kentucky almost a century ago and inspired a poignant musical performed today.

“Floyd Collins,” which opened off-Broadway in 1996, will round out Front Porch Theatricals' American Dreamers series. The show runs through Sept. 4 at the New Hazlett Theater on the North Side.

“We do socially relevant musicals, musicals that make people think while they're watching and long after,” says Front Porch co-founder Leon Zionts of the decision to stage the production, which was written by Adam Guettel based on a book by Tina Landau. “Floyd Collins was an American dreamer who died seeking fame and fortune, so it was a perfect fit for this year's series.”

Collins' death — the result of being trapped in a cave for days — attracted gawkers and became a media sensation because it coincided with the advent of radio, which brought Collins' ordeal to a widespread public as it was unfolding, Zionts says.

KDKA, the first licensed radio station in America, broadcast Collins' entrapment.

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INTERVIEWS WITH THE CAST OF FLOYD COLLINS

Nathan Salstone

In the role of Homer Collins

 

Describe your experience working with your director, Rachel Stevens.

Rachel has been such a bright light in the midst of such a heavy show. Her professionalism mixed with her sense of play in the room brings everyone to her side and makes everyone just want to do their best for her. She does a remarkable job of seeing pictures in her head and creating them, and the stage pictures in Floyd Collins are stunning- it’s hard not to know what’s happening at all times. It’s been a fantastic experience collaborating with her and playing under her direction.

 

What special preparation have you undertaken to understand your character? Have you ever played someone like him?

Homer is a hotheaded character. So is Nathan. Something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning more about is brotherhood. I don’t have any brothers but I do have best friends that are guys that serve as my brothers. So playing with Danny (Floyd) and getting to know him better has served me so much in figuring out what it would’ve been like to grow up with a brother. 


A few of us in the cast went Spelunking at Laurel Caverns in PA, and it was an experience like no other. It was incredibly telling to what this play is about and the real circumstance everyone was in. I hope we can help the audience see what we see inside the cave.

 

How do you feel about working with a cast size of 13, versus smaller or larger casts you have worked with in the past?

One less and it would’ve been too little, one more and it would’ve been too much. The cast is perfect in every bit they all have. It’s very inspiring for me seeing everyone commit 110% to every moment in the show. In my opinion it’s all the other roles that make Floyd’s journey so emotional – without them it’d be a pretty static and boring show.

This is your first time working with Front Porch Theatricals. Why did you decide to come out and audition for them, and how is that experience going so far?

Each of the past three years in Pittsburgh I have seen a Front Porch Theatricals productions in August just as school was starting up again. This year I auditioned and was lucky enough to be chosen and I couldn’t be more grateful to be performing here going into my senior year, representing my school and having this full-circle moment.

Mason Lewis

In the role of Reporter and Frederick Jordan

 

Describe your experience working with your director, Rachel Stevens.

Rachel had such an incredible energy while leading the cast through the show. Her and Alivia worked so well as a team, and they were so fun to have in the room together. Rachel has a deep passion for this show and for her work, and it absolutely shows. Every rehearsal was full of dense discussion on our text, and her wealth of knowledge in the material was very infectious. Good directors ask the right questions, and Rachel does exactly that. She's a total powerhouse, and I'm so very honored and thankful to have been able to work with her here at Front Porch Theatricals! 


What special preparation have you undertaken to understand your character? Have you ever played someone like him?

As the reporters, we had a tricky job of maneuvering through many different "shells" of characters. One scene, I'm a local Kentuckian in Barren County, and then a few scenes later I'm a director's assistant, right into being a reporter, etc. It's been a great stretch to have to be so malleable, and yet also be very clear and concise with each character. 


How do you feel about working with a cast size of 13, versus smaller or larger casts you have worked with in the past?

The cast size has been great! It's one of the smaller ones I've been in in the last few years, and I think I'm slowly starting to prefer it. It's just enough for everyone to have their own individual attention and energy in the room, and not too many that some people get lost. 


This is your first time working with Front Porch Theatricals. Why did you decide to come out and audition for them, and how is that experience going so far?

I've loved my time here! Since moving to Pittsburgh to attend Point Park, I've seen almost all of Front Porch Theatricals shows while I've been in the city. It's been a great experience finally being able to be on the other side of the stage! The producers have been so fun, and Rachel and Alivia are such an awesome pair. I'm also super excited to be able to perform in the New Hazlett, I think it's an incredible space with so many possibilities.

Corwin Stoddard

In the role of Jewell Estes

Describe your experience working with your director, Rachel Stevens.

She's incredible. She has such a creative and specific vision for every single aspect of the show. It's not every day you get to work with someone so hellbent on creating a meaningful piece of theatre. In addition, she understands that creating a show is a conversation between the actor and the director; she's always willing to listen to us and incorporate it into what's happening. She knows exactly how to communicate to you not only what she wants to do, but why to do it as well. It's clear that she holds this show as close to her heart as I do.


What special preparation have you undertaken to understand your character? Have you ever played someone like him?

I was actually fortunate enough to play Jewell in a production Floyd Collins a few years ago, back home in Texas. I was 17 at the time as well, the same age as Jewell, so I essentially just played an exaggerated version of myself on stage. Now that I'm older, it's a bit harder to get in touch with my juvenile self, but it's relieving (as a recent college grad) to tap back into that sense of playfulness I had back then.


How do you feel about working with a cast size of 13, versus smaller or larger casts you have worked with in the past?

13 is a nicely sized cast. You get the intimacy and closeness of smaller cast, but still feel the epic scope of story that a larger cast brings. Even though we haven't spent too much time together, being involved in a show like this that relies so heavily on human relationships that has naturally made us come together like a big ol' redneck family.


This is your first time working with Front Porch Theatricals. Why did you decide to come out and audition for them, and how is that experience going so far?

I saw their production of Parade two years ago and absolutely loved it. As soon as I saw the announcement for this year's season, it was honestly a no-brainer. The chance to do one of my favorite shows with such an amazing company seemed like much too awesome of an opportunity to pass up.

Danny McHugh

In the role of Floyd Collins

Describe your experience working with your director, Rachel Stevens.

Working with Rachel Stevens has been incredible. She is the most passionate and focused director I've ever worked with. She makes me and my fellow performers better actors.


What special preparation have you undertaken to understand your character? Have you ever played someone like him?

I have never played someone like Floyd before. For research I have read some books about his life (and death), and I've also gone caving at the Laurel Caverns about an hour south of Pittsburgh proper. To be in that amazing place and feel the dark, cool, peacefulness was amazing, yet knowing how quickly and easily it could turn dangerous. That definitely helped put me in the headspace of Floyd.


How do you feel about working with a cast size of 13, versus smaller or larger casts you have worked with in the past?

With a cast this size, I feel like every performer gets their chance to be featured in the storytelling. I have found myself watching scene work during the rehearsal process knowing that I won't ever be able to see it again once we are actually running the show since the character of Floyd only interacts with a small group of characters.


This is your first time working with Front Porch Theatricals. Why did you decide to come out and audition for them, and how is that experience going so far…?

When I saw that Front Porch Theatricals was doing Floyd Collins in their season, I flipped out. I've known this show for a very long time and have always wanted to do it. And this is the first time I've ever had the opportunity to audition for it professionally. It was very clear from the first day of rehearsals how much people involved with Front Porch care about storytelling, and a show like this one needs that care. It's in great hands.

Trent Soyster

Assistant Choreographer, Intern

Describe your experience working with your mentor and the team.

Alivia and I have definitely bonded working on both shows this season together. We have the same sense of humor and are both extremely excited to be working with this awesome cast and team. The shows this season were shows that I didn't know prior and I'm so happy I decided to join the team again this year! It's been an awesome experience going from a student of Alivia's at the CLO Academy, to being her assistant and creating and adjusting the choreography right alongside of her.

What special preparation have you undertaken to get ready for your role?

I find it quite difficult to completely plan out everything choreography-wise before the cast is there in front of you. The most important thing about choreography, to me, is having a specific plan and idea in your head of what you want (and have it written down!), but then being flexible and thinking on your feet because the cast's skill set most likely will affect what choreography can actually be given and executed cleanly.

How do you feel about working with this cast? Team? Director?

This cast is exceptional! I love watching them work, because each person has their own way of learning. I also have loved getting caught up in the story, because of the great storytellers that they are. Sometimes Rachel, director, will say something like "okay great that's a nice start!", and I'm thinking in my head "oh gosh I think that was performance ready!!" It's quite the talented bunch, and the people behind the table are all working hard to help make Floyd a success!

This isn't your first time working with Front Porch Theatricals. What brought you back, and are you pleased to be spending your summer this way?

This is my fourth show that I've done with Front Porch! This internship has been a large part of my past two summers, and I've had the time of my life. The opportunity to work with professional actors in a professional company, alongside a professional mentor who is working in the theater business in their specific field is amazing! All of the mentors that I've had the pleasure of working with over these four shows have taken me under their wing and let me create, explore, and broaden my strengths.

Angela Mazzocco

Assistant Stage Manager, Intern

Describe your experience working with your mentor and the team.

I’m loving it! It was a bit of an adjustment for me because I am used to stage managing or being one of maybe two ASM’s, so this process has been a little more laid back than what I was used to. But once I got used to it, I really enjoyed it. I’m learning a lot about professional theatre from the stage management standpoint, having only worked professionally as an actor. Logan is wonderful and super helpful with any questions or assistance we have ever needed as well!

What special preparation have you undertaken to get ready for your role?

I’ve had experience stage managing and assistant stage managing the past two years at my university, and have been an actor for a very long time! So I think my experiences in theater have helped me successfully do my job as an intern.

How do you feel about working with this cast? Team? Director?

This cast was flawlessly put together. Every day, each of them inspire me to become a better performer and I can only hope that I am as wonderful to work with as an actor as they are. The rest of the production team has also been wonderful, especially Alivia and Doug whom I’ve interacted with a lot during rehearsals. Their positivity is invaluable and they are also so knowledgeable in what they are doing. As for Rachel… I literally have no words. She has been so incredible to watch. If I took nothing else away from this experience but just getting to watch her make art, I would be nothing but grateful. I’ve been interested in directing for a while, but never really thought about pursuing it, and Rachel completely changed that for me. After watching her for less than a week, I realized that that’s what I want to do, and I began taking extensive notes on the way Rachel directs. I haven’t had the chance to let Rachel know how much she has inspired me, but I did want to say that to you guys! The chance to get to work with her is honestly one I will cherish and value for the rest of my career in theater. And I can only hope that one day I can be half the director Rachel is!

This is your first time working with Front Porch Theatricals. Do you think it will be your only time? Are you pleased to be spending your summer this way?

This is my first time, but I really hope to come back! ?

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